SAR group learns about hunting safety

Tom Newton

CASSADAGA — Tom Newton, certified New York State hunter safety instructor, recently spoke to the Chautauqua County Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution, sharing information typically provided to groups being certified as hunters in New York State.

Newton, a member of the SAR, has been a hunter safety instructor for seven to eight years. Instructors, he said, are not paid, and have certified some 3,000,000 hunters over the years. Participants must cover about four to five hours of homework, followed by the four hours of class time. Participants must be at least 11 years of age. Newton noted that firearms and ammunition are provided for class participants.

The Wildlife Restoration Act provided the basis for the hunter safety course, commonly referred to as the Pittman-Robertson Act was sponsored by Sen. Key Pitman of Nevada and Rep. Willis Robertson of Virginia. The legislation was a cooperation between the states, federal government, conservation groups and the sporting arms industry. The legislation was drafted by Carl Shoemaker and was passed in 1937.

Then, the hunter education program was created by Public Law 91-503, approved Oct. 23, 1970 that amended the Wildlife Restoration Act. The law added provisions for the 10 percent tax on pistols and revolvers to be deposited to the Wildlife Restoration Account, half of which may be used for hunter safety programs. These funds were previously deposited in the general treasury. On Oct. 25, 1972, the Act was further amended by P.L. 92-558 to add provisions for the deposit of the 11 percent excise tax on bows, arrows, and their parts and accessories for use in wildlife projects or hunter safety programs. The 2000 Federal Assistance Improvement Act amended the Wildlife Restoration Act to include an $8 million set aside annually out of the Wildlife Restoration Account to be used for the enhancement of hunter education and shooting range development. (


Firearms, Newton said, should always be considered to be loaded, but are not viewed as weapons, which carries a military connotation. The history of firearms traces back in time many years to include everything from rocks, spears, knives, muzzleloaders, wheel-locks, along with a variety of ammunition types, bolt-action firearms, slide-action firearms and a variety of shooting positions.

Mention was made of Chronic Wasting Disease, possibly increasing amongst whitetail deer in the northeast.

Newton noted that it is illegal to feed deer in New York State. And, hunters are not permitted to hunt within sight of a salt block. It is important to know the species you are hunting. Know the bag limit for the game being hunted. There are sundown and sunrise limits. The crossbow is categorized as a “rifle,” and the hunter must have a muzzleloader license to use a crossbow.

Newton said the hunter must be prepared. Plan your hunt. Engage in outdoor safety. Tell someone — relatives or friends — where you are going. Carry a list of your medications on your person. Basic survival skills, along with basic personal fitness are important. Hunters should carry a first aid kit and a compass. Respect for others and for property is important. Tree stand safety is important, and injuries have been reported from time to time. Arguments should be avoided, and may ensue as to who a deer belongs to: the deer belongs to the hunter who fired the fatal shot.

Since the 1960s, the number of hunters has declined. So, too, has the number of deer. Also, the number of accidents and incidents has declined, by some 80 percent.

Newton reminded the group of the importance of wearing luminescent orange, providing safety for the hunter, but which deer cannot visually detect. Deer do not have red-sensitive cone cells in their eyes, and can’t tell red or orange from green or brown colors. Signing licenses has become a problem for hunter applicants because cursive writing apparently is not being taught in the schools.

More information may be sought from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website, at

In other business, the group collected money for Liberty’s Way, the site at Miller Road, Lander, Pennsylvania, which assists homeless veterans and operates a clothing store not far from the Lander Fire Department.

Doug Arters, chapter secretary, shared information about Hillsdale College, which provides free online courses about many subjects, such as the U.S. Constitution.

Jeff Crossley, chapter vice president, closed the meeting with the SAR oath. The next meeting, a fellowship gathering, is set for today at the Cassadaga Country Club, Frisbee Road, Cassadaga. Guests are welcome to attend. Lunch is ordered off the menu. Members trace their ancestry back to a Revolutionary War soldier, Minute-man, militiaman, Continental congressman or other ancestor who served the cause of liberty. Harry Lent, registrar, provides SAR application assistance for new members. For more information, call the chapter president, Steve Boothe at 574-7995 or the vice president, Crossley at 969-4066 or the secretary, Arters at 490-3880.